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Streets Are Alive … With Cougars Fans Take Over Parade Route

Thu., Jan. 1, 1998

The street was a bizarre blend of a war zone and a slumber party.

Kids threw marshmallows at booming cars like music-seeking missiles. A symphony of helicopters and car horns assaulted the crowd’s ears. One man wore a huge golf ball as a helmet, another put a plastic chunk of cheese on his head, and at least three guys donned Santa Claus hats.

An erector set of impromptu chain-link fences and bleachers separated the Rose Parade ticket haves from the have-nots, who camped out all night to get a good spot for the parade this morning.

Those without tickets were definitely having fun. Most towed lawn chairs, sleeping bags and coolers full of … something, but they really didn’t want to say what, because it wasn’t exactly legal. They celebrated the New Year on the street.

The Cougar fans were there, too, like speed bumps on the sidewalk, reading newspapers, clutching marshmallows like money, eating and playing Clue.

“It’s just an all-night party,” said Lu Luhring, who sprawled on a tarp on the sidewalk. “It’s alive all night. It never gets quiet.”

“We’ll just keep yelling, ‘Go Cougs,’ at the cars that drive by,” added her husband, Bob Luhring, who said the sidewalk was more comfortable than his father’s pullout bed. The couple lives in Pullman, and they showed it, wearing their WSU gear and predicting a Rose Bowl win today.

Enough folding chairs for 10 old-fashioned church revivals lined the 5.5-mile course. Some people barbecued, and others carried pizza boxes. Grandmas wore neon wristbands and swayed on the sidewalk. The whole street was a patchwork quilt of transplanted bedrooms, garden sets, sleeping bags and board games from Boggle to Balderdash.

“This is my cousin and this is my stamp!” shouted Dylan Ramey, 4, who couldn’t seem to speak without exclamation points.

He held an Esmerelda ink stamp which he managed to use all over himself and his cousin. He wore a too-big Cougar hat draped over his forehead. His grandmother, Bonnie Brooks, wasn’t sure about all this. She held her arms crossed in front of her like she was hugging herself.

“I think the Cougars are great but I don’t know about these Californians,” said Brooks, who lives in Colville. “It’s an awful big world for me.”

This world was a culture clash waiting to happen. One card table listened to old swing music while the next table listened to rap. Kids blew the kazoo like they meant it, and they ate cotton candy with chopsticks.

Michigan fans camped out next to Washington State fans.

“We’re gonna kick Michigan …,” proclaimed Walter Berninger, a Washington State graduate, loud enough for some burly Michigan guys with one neck among them to hear.

Berninger, some old college roommates and friends and at least one dad, all drove down to Southern California in an RV. They talked a good game about the idea of maybe, kind of, drinking alcohol on New Year’s Eve.

“They’re the drinkers,” said the dad, Kelly Kinderspire, pointing at his son.

“Thanks a lot,” said Mark Kinderspire, who poked his pop. “Don’t put that in there. I’m like a teacher in Moscow. That’ll look really great.” So to set the record straight, Mark Kinderspire was drinking a Coke and was sober. At least he was before the sun set on pink and blue clouds over Pasadena. When the sun went down, the party level went up.

Many Cougars explained what to do on Colorado Boulevard at night, already parade veterans even though they’d never been there before.

Kevin Chastagner, 11, wore a Cougar T-shirt that looked like it was swallowing him. He was very excited about the prospect of spending the night on the sidewalk, and he was even more excited about the prospect of appearing on TV at the Rose Parade.

Look for him this morning at the parade. He’ll be the freckle-face with braces and a bright yellow coat. They call him “banana boy” back home in Sumner when he wears that coat.

“He told me today he was gonna sleep during the game,” said his dad, Gary Chastagner, who obligingly parked his son and chairs across the street from a mini-TV studio.

“I said that’s pretty expensive sleep.”

Heather Edds, 15, stood next to Kevin Chastagner with a marshmallow in hand. It was her second one of the day, and she waited for a proper car to stick it on. This prospect also made Kevin excited.

Her father sighed.

Brian Edds, a young snowbird who spends winters in Southern California and summers in Coeur d’Alene, knew the evening he was in for.

“It gets out of control with the super squirters, you know, the big water guns, and tortillas flying through the air with shaving cream on them,” said Edds, who also wanted to say hi to everyone on Elk Trail in Coeur d’Alene. “It gets crazy.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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